Hipsters, the homeless and money, oh my!

Big Zach’s future was in question, but the local hip-hop community will ensure his return to rap.

Megan Kadrmas

Anyone who has met Zach “New MC” from local hip-hop staple Kanser knows he likes to tell stories. He tells them through his lyrics, in between songs and in the crowd after his set.

Those who know Zach’s stories also know how, like any good storyteller, he likes to stretch the truth a little.

Good thing he’ll have the scars to prove this one.

Zach said he was biking through Uptown last week, putting up fliers. He was heading toward Fifth Element record store on Hennepin Avenue to drop off a copy of his soon-to-be-released solo album for Kevin Beachum. Then he got a phone call and started biking slower as he talked to a friend.

This is where the story gets good.

Two “homeless-looking” men were walking in front of him, he said. And as he was biking behind these men, he looked down and saw a bunch of money in the grass.

“Since I was on the phone, I said out loud, ‘Holy shit. I just found a bunch of money,’ ” Zach said.

The homeless men in front of him turned around and immediately claimed the money was theirs. They told Zach they had been looking for the money for half an hour.

“They were both talking real fast and being really aggressive,” Zach recounted.

He said he didn’t want to cause a big scene over the money and insisted he didn’t feel threatened by the men. And to be fair, he offered to give them the money if they could tell him how much they lost. The men said they lost $60, but when Zach counted out the cash, it was more; so he started biking away, money in hand.

And here the story goes from good to unbelievably great.

The men started yelling for someone to stop Zach, shouting that he had robbed them. In the next moment, as if there were nothing better to do than to wait around to do good, hipsters came out of the woodwork, grabbing at him.

“Real self-righteous people,” Zach called them.

He said “a nerdy white dude” stuck out his arm and clotheslined him as he was racing away on his BMX bike.

In an instant, he was lying on the pavement; his nose gushed blood. Everyone apologized, including the two men who started the whole debacle.

“If they would’ve been smooth about it, I might have shared the money with them in the beginning,” Zach said.

At the hospital, Zach found out he had a broken nose and a deviated septum. The doctors told him he needed surgery quickly or he may never be able to breathe normally again, meaning he’d never rap again. This was the scariest part for Zach, who started rapping at the tender age of 14 and makes his money off his music.

It was also a scary prospect for the Twin Cities hip-hop community, who has watched “Big” Zach grow up on stage with Kanser since 1995.

As a career rapper, Zach doesn’t have health insurance or a nest egg tucked away to pay for the surgery, which cost over $4000. So his band-mate Unicus, and 10K Breaks, a local booking and promotion agency, quickly pulled together a benefit show for him at the Dinkytowner Cafe.

The show had an impressive line-up for a last-minute gig and a sizeable crowd for a rainy Wednesday night. It pulled in about half the cost of the surgery, Zach said, and his label-mates on Interlock Records covered the rest.

“I am very, very grateful to everyone,” he said. “I’m so overwhelmed with the support from everyone; I don’t even know what to say about it.”

Zach had the surgery on Friday and is hoping for a speedy recovery, since his first solo album is slated to come out Nov. 9 and he has a handful of upcoming shows.

He still plans to go ahead with his release date, saying the doctors told him that if all goes well, he’ll be ready to rap again for his release party Nov. 17.

In the end, Zach said things could have been worse. He said he pinpoints a moment where he should have acted differently, so he’s just hoping something positive comes out of the whole ordeal.

“In my heat of anger, I actually threw the money at the bums,” he said. “I think I regret that the most.”